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Two Cheers for Rio, 1992

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Abstract

This chapter has two major purposes. The first is to explain the origins of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development convened at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992. This explanation will explore the inherent difficulties and limitations of that process, typical of any large multilateral conference, and thus illustrate the ideas of issue-linkage identified in Chapter 1, and continue the discussion of the UN role after Stockholm, described in the preceeding chapter. This discussion will also describe what might be called ‘the path through the paper’, namely the pressures exerted on the agenda of UNCED during its passage through the machinery of the UN system. This discussion is intended to demonstrate that any reasonable analysis of the prospects for UNCED would have emphasised prudence and played down the hyperbole which attached to the conference. This section concludes with an examination of the complex and conflicting nature of the many national attitudes to the UNCED agenda.

Keywords

Carbon Dioxide Emission United Nations Environment Programme Structural Reform Montreal Protocol Global Environmental Facility 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    For an excellent survey of the past record, see Ingrid Detter de Lupis, ‘The Human Environment: Stockholm and Its Follow Up’, in P. Taylor and A. J. Groom, Global Issues in the UN Framework (London: Macmillan, 1989), pp. 205–25.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    M. Grubb, M. Koch, A. Munson, F. Sullivan, K. Thompson, The Earth Summit Agreements, A Guide and an Assessment (Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1993).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Caroline Thomas (ed.), Rio: Unravelling the Consequences (London: Frank Cass, forthcoming 1994). Thomas’s preview of the UNCED agenda is contained in The Environment in International Relations (Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1992).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    A. Rogers, The Earth Summit, A planetary reckoning (Global View Press, 1993), contains a full appreciation of the non-governmental dimension of the UNCED.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Peter H. Sands, Lessons Learned in Global Governance (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 1990), p. 14.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See, M. Imber, ‘Environmental security; a task for the UN system’, Review of International Studies, Vol. 17, 1991, pp. 201–12, especially, pp. 211–12. Also, Auslan Cramb, ‘Environment conference will fail, says academic’, The Scotsman, 7 January 1992.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    UN General Assembly resolutions 38/161 of 19 December 1983 and 42/186 of 11 December 1987. Published by UNEP as Environmental Perspective to the Year 2000 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1988).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Available as UNEP document GCSSI/&/Add1, 1988.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    UN General Assembly, A/CONF. 151/PC/6, 27 June 1990, Overview of system-wide activities relevant to General Assembly resolution 44/228, 48 pp.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Speech by Dato Seri Dr Mahatir Mohammed, Prime Minister of Malaysia, to 2nd Ministerial Conference of Developing Countries on Environment and Development, Kuala Lumpur, 27 April 1992. Source: Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the United Nations, New York.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    153 states signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change at Rio. Six months later, in December 1992, the following countries had not signed the FCCC; Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Brunei,* Cambodia, Czechoslovakia, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Georgia, Grenada, the Holy See, Iran*, Iraq*, Kuwait *, Kyrgystan, Laos, Malaysia, Panama, Qatar*, St Lucia, St Vincent, Saudi Arabia*, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Syria, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UAE*, Uzbekistan (* denotes OPEC member). See Grubb, et. al., op. cit., 1993, p. 15.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., p. 15.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    The document appeared as (UNCED A/CONF. 151/6/Rev1), later reproduced in Agenda 21, The United Nations Programme of Action From Rio (UN, 1993), pp. 289–94.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Francis Sullivan, ‘Forest Principles’, in M. Grubb et al., op. cit., p. 161.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    The Rio Declaration is also included in Agenda 21, op. cit., pp. 9–11.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    See Adam Rogers, op. cit., p. 193.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    K. Thompson, ‘The Rio Declaration’, in M. Grubb et al., op. cit., p. 91.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Agenda 21, op. cit., Chapter 33. 18, pp. 251.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ibid., Chapter 33.10, p. 250.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ibid., Chapter 33.18, p. 251.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (Oxford, 1987), p. 303.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    United Nations, The Global Partnership (United Nations, April 1992), p. 17.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    M. Grubb, et al., op. cit., p. 174.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    World Commission on Environment and Development, op. cit., p. 318.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ibid., pp. 318–19Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    This statement is extracted from a Prepcom document prepared by the conference secretariat in advance of the Geneva sessions of August 1991, nine months prior to Rio. See UN, A/CONF.151/PC/80, para. 11.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Roddick, UNCED, itsStakeholdersand the Post-UNCED Process, Mimeo, University of Glasgow, Institute of Latin American Studies, May 1993, pp. 11–12.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ibid., pp. 13–15.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Rogers, op. cit., p. 228.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    ECOSOC comprises 54 elected members drawn from the General Assembly. Eighteen join and leave in rotation each year after a three-year term. See Basic Facts About the United Nations (New York: UN, 1987), p. 9.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    The following list is adapted from that produced by Tom Bigg of the UK-UNA Sustainable Development Unit in March 1993. See also Kathy Sessions, Washington Weekly Report, XIX-6, 5 March 1993.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    N. Myers, The Gaia Atlas of Future Worlds (Robertson McCarta, 1990), p. 82.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Agenda 21, op. cit., Chapter 38.2. p. 274.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ibid., Chapter 38.16, pp. 276–7.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Data is complicated by the UN organs operating a biennium funding system, and by the existence of extensive trust funds and reserves as well as straight cash-donations to the two programmes. See General Accounting Office, op. cit., p. 9 and also General Accounting Office, United Nations; US Participation in the UN Development Programme, February 1990, p. 29.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Rogers, op. cit., passim.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    P. Doran, ‘The Earth Summit, (UNCED): Ecology as Spectacle’, Paradigms, Vol. 7, 1993, pp. 55–66.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ibid., p. 57.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Rogers, op. cit., p. 233.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mark F. Imber 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of St AndrewsUK

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